Polar Symposium 2018
Commission for NWO (Dutch organisation for scientific research) on the occasion of
Polar Symposium 2018, The Hague (NL), 1-13 December 2018.
Other artists: Esther Kokmeijer, Udo Prinsen,
This project was done in close collaboration with Peter Bijl, Dick van der Kroef & Peter Kuipers Munneke.
It is not a question whether the west-Antarctic ice sheet will melt or not. The question is when and how fast.
Global warming will cause an increase of melt water off Antarctica. This will result in sea level rise. In the process, the disappearing ice will also lead to a change of color in the Antarctic landscape; white ice will eventually be replaced by dark green
vegetation and dark blue ocean water. Instead of the reflecting nature of ice, darker surfaces absorb heat. The consequence: a self-reinforcing process, which leads to a tipping point in climate and sea level.
To get a better understanding of the impact of global warming on Antarctica, we can look in its geological past. Antarctica has experienced warm climates many times before, with similar conditions as those predicted for the future. In these warm past climates the Antarctic landscape was vegetated with green forests. Instead of sea ice plankton we find in todays Antarctic coastal waters, tropical plankton thrived under warm climate conditions.